Saturday, 22 November 2008

Hospital foundation trust marks its first anniversary

MORE than 150 people attended the first annual meeting of Musgrove Park Hospital’s NHS foundation trust, in Taunton.
They heard reports from chairman Ros Wyke and chief executive Jo Cubbon and saw the first ever showing of the foundation trust DVD.
There were also presentations on the new surgical centre planned for Musgrove and the cancer treatment Beacon Centre, which will open next May.
Mrs Wyke said: “Members are very important to us at Musgrove, they make a real difference and it was good to be able to meet so many at the annual meeting.
“It was particularly useful to hear people’s views about the hospital - what we are getting right and what we need to work on.
“These views, and the involvement of our members, will help us move from being a good hospital, to becoming a great hospital.”
One foundation member, Glyn Meredith, said: “The meeting was very good and extremely interesting.
“The enthusiasm of the staff was clear for all to see, both in the presentations and in those running stalls.
“It gave me great confidence in the future of the hospital and I would certainly go to other events being organised.”
Joining the foundation trust is free and does not commit members to anything.
They receive information from the hospital, are invited to special members-only evenings, and have an opportunity to vote in elections for the members’ council.
The council is made up of 27 governors, of whom 20 are elected, and plays a key role in influencing the future direction of the hospital and deciding who sits on the board of directors.
Anybody who would like to join the foundation trust can call the membership office on 01823 342460 or they can join online at The telephone number can also be used by anybody who would like a speaker from the hospital to attend their community or local meeting.
  • Our photograph shows foundation trust member Glyn Meredith with one of the younger members, Charlotte Trower, and her 10-month-old daughter Sofia Nichols, who attended the annual meeting. Photo submitted.

Friday, 21 November 2008

Revealed - the BNP members living and working in West Somerset

NINETEEN people across West Somerset are paid-up members of the British National Party, according to a leaked membership list which has been published on the internet.
The Post has seen the list and read details of the BNP membership locally, but, given that the BNP is a bona fide political party, we have taken an editorial decision not to publish details which could identify the individuals concerned.
The names include whole families and show people living in Minehead, Alcombe, Porlock, Dunster, Williton, Blue Anchor, Allerford, Timberscombe, Langley Marsh, and Wiveliscombe.
There is even a Royal Marine listed from Norton Manor Camp, near Norton Fitzwarren, with details of his regiment and company
One man is shown under his business address, complete with business email and telephone number.
The email address provided for one woman shows that she works for the Taunton and Somerset NHS Trust, which runs Musgrove Park Hospital, in Taunton.
Another woman is listed as having reverted to her maiden name in 2003, while one man is listed as a retired jeweller who is also a Freemason.
The published list includes a variety of personal information such as personal and work email address, home and mobile telephone numbers, age, occupation, former address, and the fact that a membership card had been lost or stolen and replaced on a certain date.
Some members are also listed as‘activist’.
Throughout the wider Somerset area there are more than 100 members listed, including in communities such as Cotford St Luke, Taunton, Bridgwater, and almost every major town in the county.
The list is alleged to have been published by a former party treasurer.
BNP leader Nick Griffin said in a statement on the party’s website the list was 'essentially genuine' although more than a year old and some members had left, while other names had been added 'presumably in an attempt to cause further mischief'.

Safaris on Exmoor fear for future if Government bans off-roading

SAFARI operators on Exmoor fear their businesses could be wiped out if proposed new Government legislation which would stop them driving off-road is enforced.
Applications to be exempted from the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Bill, which was introduced two years ago, have been rejected in an Appeal Court hearing.
The decision could spell the end for businesses such as Wheddon Cross-based Barle Valley Safaris, run by Alison Simms and Duncan Waller, and Discovery Safaris, of Porlock, owned by Richard Growden.
Safari companies attract thousands of people to Exmoor every year and contribute to the important tourism spend on which the area’s economy is hugely dependent.
The Bill was intended to stop off-roading by a minority of people who were recklessly damaging the country’s National Parks and other areas by banning motor vehicles from rights of way classified as Roads Used as Public Paths (RUPPs).
However, legitimate safari businesses have been caught up by it and now a legal mix-up has left them facing an uncertain future.
Barle Valley Safaris was one of many businesses across the country which applied for temporary permission to continue using RUPPs while permanent applications were being processed by local councils.
Unfortunately, the Appeal Court ruled all such applications were invalid because the applicants had not supplied actual maps of the routes they used.
Mr Waller said people had been advised they could submit copies of routes which could be referenced against maps held by county councils – but the advice was flawed and the court ruled original maps should have been supplied.
Exmoor National Park Authority has supported the safari businesses and said it has no objection to them using the moor’s 40 miles of RUPPs.
Now, Mr Waller has launched an appeal for help to continue the battle to be exempted from the legislation.
Mr Waller said: “We are at our wits end with it all. We are being punished for the problems caused by a very small minority of people.
“Most people who come up here are very responsible. Most of our customers are elderly or disabled or families.
“We only go between 5 mph and 10 mph, we want people to see the moor, not give them a white-knuckle ride.
“We are very conscious of looking after the environment.
“We are in a dreadful position now where we cannot use the tracks we were before, which means we cannot take people into the moor.
“We can only really use the road now, and that defeats the point.
“Our trips showed people the parts they would not normally be able to reach.”
Barle Valley Safaris can be contacted by emailing or calling 01643 851386 or visiting the website
Discovery Safaris can be contacted by emailing or calling 01643 863444 or visiting the website
  • Our photographs show (TOP) Richard Growden, of Discovery Safaris, off-roading near Winsford, photo by Graham Haw; and (BELOW) a Barle Valley Safaris trip across Exmoor, photo submitted.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Council slated by auditors for taking nine weeks to process housing benefit claims

THE housing benefits service in West Somerset has been rated as one of the worst of any council in the whole country.
The Audit Commission gave the district council service a zero rating, leaving the council among the 25 per cent poorest performing authorities in England.
The commission’s 2007-2008 report said 3,500 residents had faced ‘unacceptable delays’ as benefit claims took up to 65 days to process, and the service was not demonstrating ‘value for money’.
The inspection team said it accepted the council had made improvements during the past 12 months, including new IT investment, better working practices, and improvements in the continuity of service delivery.
The commission’s senior manager, Sophie Trim, said: “The benefits service at West Somerset Council is now showing signs of improvement following changes in both working practices and technology.
“There is a strong commitment from councillors and staff to deliver improvements, and these improvements have had an impact on customers.
“People now receive their benefit quicker and have better access through telephone, website, and frontline services.”
However, the commission said the council still needed to do further work to improve the accessibility to benefits for customers and to ensure service standards and performance targets were relevant to customers’ needs.
It also recommended further improvements to performance monitoring and management, and for the service to be more proactive in identifying and deterring levels of benefit fraud.
District council leader Council Keith Ross tried to dismiss the Audit Commission’s dreadful report on the basis that it was old.
Councillor Ross said: “There had been a lot of redundancies in the benefits department which slowed down the processing time, but this last year we have improved to processing claims within 11 days.”

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Rodents to blame as fire destroys isolated farmhouse

AN isolated farmhouse was destroyed in a fire this afternoon which is thought to have been caused by mice or rats.
The rodents had gnawed through electrical wiring which was then thought to have shorted and started a blaze in the roof of the building.
The fire in Raddington, between Skilgate and Chipstable, was spotted at 2.30 pm, and initially firefighters attended from Wiveliscombe, Dulverton, and Wellington.
Heavy smoke was issuing from the roof when the fire brigade arrived and the scale of the incident was quickly established.
Two more fire engines were called from Tiverton, together with a command support unit from Ilminster and an incident support unit from Taunton, making a total of seven appliances.
The fire crews took several hours fighting the fire externally with three main jets, two hose reel jets, and six firefighters wearing breathing apparatus.
They also carried out salvage work.
The incident was scaled down to three pumps shortly after 7 pm and the blaze was finally extinguished some time later.
More than three-quarters of the farmhouse was destroyed by the fire and most of the remainder was damaged by water used to fight it.
Illustrative photo.

Local politicians to take part in unique Question Time event

PEOPLE in West Somerset are being invited to ask leading local politicians questions on the issues that matter most to them at a special Question Time event taking place at West Somerset Council offices, in Williton, on December 17, from 6 pm to 8 pm.
Members of Somerset County Council, Exmoor National Park Authority, and West Somerset Council will form a joint panel for residents to ask questions about any of the services the authorities provide, including:
  • Roads and transport
  • Education and social care
  • Recycling and waste collection
  • Planning and housing
  • Recreation, leisure and community facilities
  • Community safety
District council leader Councillor Keith Ross said: “This is the first time all three authorities have united to offer local people the chance to raise issues that matter to them in a public question time.
“It is a unique opportunity for residents to make their thoughts known.
“I would encourage people to come to the event to let us know what their concerns are.”
County council leader Councillor Jill Shortland said: “This evening event will be a great opportunity for people in West Somerset to ask questions about the issues that concern them.
“I am certain there will be plenty to discuss and this event shows that both councils are serious about listening to local people and improving all the services that we deliver, right on people’s doorstep.”
A meeting of the county council’s executive will also take place in the Williton council offices at 2 pm on December 17 as part of a tour of Somerset which sees the executive meeting once in each district.
Further details, including information on how to submit a question, is available on the county council’s website at or by contacting Scott Wooldridge, on 01823 356748 or by email at

Dress down council staff raise funds for Children in Need

DISTRICT council staff in West Somerset dressed down to raise more than £70 for Children in Need on Friday, November 14.
Council chairman, Councillor Eddie May, acting head of paid service Adrian Dyer, and corporate director Bruce Lang, clubbed together to offer prizes for staff who made the best -or worst - of the dress down theme.
Visitors to the council offices in Williton were surprised to be welcomed by the likes of witches, bath-time belles, and men dressed in shocking pink, but it was taken in good heart because it was for a great cause.
Councillor May, who selected the prizewinners, said: “It is great to see the staff having some fun and dressing down to raise funds for such a worthwhile charity.
“They really entered into the spirit of the day and while it was difficult to choose the winners the ladies really made a special effort, so they deserved to win.”
Councillor May is pictured with the prizewinners.

Traffic delays on A39 after crash and fire

A THREE-vehicle crash in which one caught fire caused delays on the A39 at Nether Stowey this morning.
Firefighters from Nether Stowey were called to the incident shortly after 8.30 am.
All the drivers and passengers of the vehicles had managed to free themselves before the fire brigade arrived.
A small fire in one of the vehicles was believed to have been caused by an electrical fault following the crash.
The blaze was put out using a hose reel jet, and damage was limited to part of the engine compartment.

Charity calls for patient re-testing amid fears over asthma and COPD misdiagnosis

PATIENTS in West Somerset aged 35 years and older and who have asthma or the progressive illness chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) should be re-tested, according to a leading charity.
The British Lung Foundation is calling for the re-testing following evidence of confusion over diagnosis and treatment of the two respiratory diseases.
A nationwide survey of 776 GPs carried out for the charity by revealed more than three-quarters of doctors in the Westcountry found it challenging to differentiate between asthma or COPD, causing misdiagnosis and distress among patients.
Other survey findings of Westcountry GPs showed:
  • Five per cent of GP practices lacked appropriately trained staff to carry out spirometry testing
  • Less than a third (31 per cent) of GPs were trained to carry out spirometry testing themselves
  • The Westcountry had the highest percentage of GPs, at more than one-quarter (28 per cent), who said there had been no change in the quality of COPD diagnosis under the QOF system
  • Less than two-fifths (39 per cent) of GPs said the QOF system should reward GPs for clarifying whether a patient has asthma or COPD
A separate UK-wide patient survey carried out by the charity showed that nearly two-fifths (39 per cent) had been told they had both asthma and COPD, a far higher figure than should be the case.
The BLF said it was vital a diagnosis of COPD or asthma was clarified and that the GP contract should reward this next year.
BLF spokesman Dr Keith Prowse said: “It can be difficult to differentiate between an asthma and COPD diagnosis but the long-term aims of asthma and COPD treatment are different, and it is vital that people with either disease have an accurate diagnosis.
“In asthma, the aim is to restore full lung function and if it is not treated properly the inflammation can cause scarring in the lungs and permanent damage.
“In COPD, the management of the disease is quite complex and treatments such as pulmonary rehabilitation are crucial.”
BLF chief executive Dame Helena Shovelton said: “Patients get understandably distressed and angry when they realise they have been misdiagnosed and not given the most appropriate treatment.
“We are calling for everybody age over 35 with an asthma or COPD diagnosis to be re-tested, and for this to be made part of the GP contract next year.”
COPD is the umbrella term for a number of lung conditions including chronic bronchitis and emphysema.
It is a progressive, irreversible lung disease which kills more people every year than breast, bowel, or prostate cancer, and is both preventable and treatable.
Early diagnosis and appropriate treatment can slow the progression of the illness.
Dame Helena said: “The UK faces a chronic lung disease time bomb.
“COPD is already the fifth biggest killer in the UK and it is the only major cause of death whose incidence is on the increase.
“COPD is caused by smoking or by exposure to environmental pollution and to hazards at work such as dust, fumes, and gases.
“In a very small number of people it is caused by a genetic deficiency.”
The British Lung Foundation is the only UK charity working for everybody affected by lung disease, including COPD.
It provides support via a telephone helpline, booklets on lung diseases and related issues, a comprehensive website, BLF community nurses, and a Breathe Easy support network for anybody affected by lung disease.
The charity’s helpline can be contacted on 08458 50 50 20 or by visiting the website
  • Our photograph shows BLF celebrity supporter,Olympic gold medalist rower James Cracknell. Photo submitted.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Small businesses urged to apply for rate relief to survive the credit crunch

SMALL businesses in West Somerset are being encouraged to apply for rate relief if the rateable value of their premises is less than £15,000 a year.
West Somerset Council leader Councillor Keith Ross said: “Governments are pumping trillions of pounds into banks to help with their liquidity, which is supposed to let the banks make lasting lines of credit for businesses.
“I am hearing from local small businesses that this is not happening, leaving some businesses desperate for finance.
“While many local businesses are registered for rate relief, we think that there are more that could benefit, especially in the current economic climate.
“I would encourage those who think they may be eligible to apply, as rate relief can help small businesses get through these tough times.”
Owners of small businesses who think they may be eligible for a reduction should contact the district council on 01643 703704 or download a form from the ‘Business’ section of the council’s website at

Christmas event planners urged to apply for their licences early

EVENT organisers and the owners of licensed premises are being reminded by West Somerset Council to apply for temporary event notices (TENs) now to ensure their Christmas celebrations are stress-free.
TENs apply to the sale of alcohol and regulated entertainments, such as live music.
Licensing committee chairman Councillor Jenny Hill said: “This year, Christmas Eve falls on a Wednesday, so people need to check the hours on their premises licence or club premises certificate for Wednesday evenings.
“Quite often, premises have earlier closing times during the week and, if this is the case, businesses will need to either apply for a temporary event notice or for a permanent variation to the licence if they wish to have longer opening hours.”
It takes a minimum of 10 clear working days, which excludes Bank Holidays and weekends, to process applications for TENs.
This means that applications for TENs for Christmas Eve must be received by December 9 at the latest.
However, the district council recommends applying for TENs a month in advance to ensure the deadline is not missed and that applications can be processed in plenty of time, leaving event organisers free to plan their celebrations.
Councillor Hill said: “The last thing the council wants to be is a killjoy because we appreciate all the hard work that goes into special festive events.
“However, Government legislation is clear on the timescales for processing TENs and local authorities have no discretion on accepting late applications.
“This is why we are urging people to apply now.
“With New Year’s Eve also falling on a Wednesday, people should check their licences to ensure they are covered for both dates.
“Also, not all licences provide for an extension of hours on New Year’s Day, so people need to check carefully, and apply for TENs accordingly.
“Any TEN that extends to past midnight is classed as two days out of the 15 days permitted within the calendar year.”
The council offices will be closed from 1 pm on Wednesday, December 24, until Monday, January 5, 2009.
More information on TENs and other licensing laws is available on West Somerset Council’s website at, or by emailing or calling customer services on 01643 703704.

Supermarket CCTV pictures show suspects in fraud and forgery inquiry

POLICE are appealing for help to identify two men suspected of carrying out fraud and forgery offences in West Somerset.One case occurred when the pair entered the Co-operative supermarket, in Fore Street, Williton, at about 8.48 pm on Saturday, August 23.
CCTV pictures of the pair were released by police today in an effort to aid their inquiries.
One is described as a white man with ginger hair and wearing khaki/green coloured jumper with a shoulder strap over his left shoulder (pictured, right) and similar colour trousers.
The other is a white man wearing dark clothing with white trainers (pictured, left).
Anybody with any information regarding the men or the offences should contact Crimestoppers immediately on 0800 555111.

Daniel lobbies MPs for better school support for diabetes

A MINEHEAD youngster was among more than 200 children and young people who were today lobbying of Parliament to ask MPs to improve support for pupils with diabetes in schools.
Daniel Mote, aged 12, travelled to London as part of a group of 36 youths from the Westcountry to join the Diabetes UK lobby.
The leading health charity is expecting at least 100 MPs to attend the lobby to hear about the inequalities in support for children with diabetes at school.
Although some children are excellently supported to manage their diabetes at school, others are not so lucky.
Some face a heart-breaking struggle, including no access to snacks during class, not being allowed on school trips, and being kept out of lessons unnecessarily.
This can have a directly damaging effect on their quality of life and education, as well as health.
Diabetes UK South West regional manager Jan Tyrrell said: “For every child with diabetes who does not receive appropriate support at school, a whole family suffers.
“We already know that the health and well-being of 83 per cent of children with diabetes is in jeopardy because they are not achieving recommended blood glucose levels, and we must do everything we can to help them.
“Schools have a vital role to play in changing this frightening statistic - and with an estimated 2,000 children being diagnosed with type one diabetes every year in the UK, action must be taken now.
“Diabetes is a serious condition that, if not managed effectively, can lead to long-term complications such as heart disease, stroke, blindness, kidney failure and amputation.
“Short-term complications of the condition include hypoglycaemic episodes, known as ‘hypos’, can lead to unconsciousness and hospitalisation if left untreated.
“However, effective diabetes management from the time of diagnosis can reduce the risk of these complications.
“This is why giving children the right support to control their condition from an early age is vital to protect their short- and long-term health.
“The Government needs to ensure that pressure comes from the top down to implement existing legislation so local authorities, primary care trusts and schools can work together to have effective policies in place to support children with diabetes – and actually adhere to them.
“Inspections and monitoring will play a vital part in this.
“It is appalling that some children with diabetes in the South West are not getting the support they need to live a full school life.”
To coincide with last week’s World Diabetes Day, Diabetes UK released ‘Making all Children Matter’, a report which looks at the current situation for children with diabetes in schools in England and what needs to be done to ensure they have the same opportunities as every other child.
A copy of the report can be downloaded at

Police renew appeal for information about missing family

PEOPLE living and working in West Somerset are being asked to help in the search for a missing mother and her five daughters.
Police today released new CCTV stills of the family (pictured) and renewed their appeal for more information on their whereabouts.
Natalie Bracht, aged 35, left her home in Sunderland on May 17 with her daughters – who are aged between five and 13 years - when she learned they might be taken into care.
Northumbria Police and Sunderland City Council's Children's Services were this week been granted a High Court order for public identification of the five girls as part of their efforts to trace Natalie and her daughters.
Det Chief Inspector Ian Bentham, who is leading the search, said: “Following the decision at the High Court to allow the identification of Natalie’s five daughters, we can today release for the first time these CCTV stills without obscuring the girls’ faces.
“They were taken on Saturday, May 17, at 6.20 pm, at King’s Cross Railway Station, in London.
“In them, Natalie is seen wearing a flowing white robe and head scarf while some of her daughters also seem to be wearing headscarves.
“We do not know how Natalie and the girls are dressed now - they may have altered their appearance several times – however, we are asking people to keep an eye open for them.”
The search for Natalie is being conducted nationwide.
Anybody with information can call Northumbria Police on 03456 043 043, or contact the Missing People charity on 0500 700 700 or email
All calls and emails can be dealt with in the strictest confidence.

Monday, 17 November 2008

LETTERS: Factsheet gives tips to stop bullying in school toilets

Dear Editor - This year, November 17 to 21 has been designated as Anti-Bullying Week.
I am sure that many of your readers will be familiar with the issue of bullying in schools and the impact which it has on victims.
School toilets are recognised as a hotspot for bullies.
I have just written a free factsheet to help reduce bullying and anti-social behaviour in school washrooms.
Schools can improve pupil safety by designing out bullying in school toilets.
Among the top tips in the factsheet are:
  • School toilets should be arranged in small blocks and not in one large central unit
  • Toilets should not be put in at the end of dead-end corridors, but opposite classrooms and staff rooms to improve the way they are supervised
  • Visibility in toilets should be improved through the use of blurred glass cubicles
  • Hand-washing areas should be unisex and more visible from passing staff and prefects
  • When planning toilets, staff and pupils should be involved as much as possible
  • Follow the ‘Toilets in Schools’ guidelines issued by the Government agency ‘Partnerships for Schools’
  • New toilet facilities should meet the minimum requirements of the ‘Bog Standard Campaign’
  • Attractive, but highly durable anti-vandal sanitaryware should be used for all toilets and washrooms to reduce the long-term financial impact of vandalism
Entitled ‘Reducing the impact of bullying and anti-social behaviour in
school toilets and washrooms’, the factsheet can be obtained by
e-mailing Wallgate Limited at: or by writing to School Toilets Factsheet, Wallgate Limited, Crow Lane, Wilton, Salisbury, Wiltshire, SP2 0HB.
Jean Donovan

National award for hospital A&E television documentary

A FLY on the wall documentary about the accident and emergency department of Musgrove Park Hospital, in Taunton, has won a national award for filmmaker Andrew Brown.
The judges for the prestigious Medical Journalism Awards said the programme, Emergency Medics, was ‘well filmed and utterly gripping. The programme flowed beautifully with the cameras leaving and returning to the action at just the right moments’.
Andrew spent three months in the department, filming the real-life action of a modern NHS accident and emergency department.
He said: “It is great for the series to win this important award, it is a real testament to the staff and patients who agreed to take part in the series.”
The award was for the second series of Emergency Medics - the third series is currently being broadcast on ITV1 Mondays at 10.40 pm.
The first two series have been seen by more than 500,000 people and are currently being repeated on the Discovery Channel.
Emma George, series producer, said: “These programmes show what A&E is really like - both sadder and happier than the television dramas.
“All life is here and the programmes show the nature of the people and amazing range of conditions treated in an A&E Department.”
Emergency medicine consultant at Musgrove, Dr Paul Baines, said: “This is an excellent department and the staff do an astonishing job every single day.
“Andrew works very professionally and after a while staff almost forget he is here.
“Most patients are happy to be filmed and very happy with the results.
“I hope that these films help the public understand what a modern A&E service is like.”
The accident and emergency department at Musgrove sees about 1,000 patients a week.

LETTERS: Help available for disabled entrep

Dear Editor - Do you know somebody who is disabled would like to run a business and needs support?
This week, November 17 to 23, is National Enterprise Week.
Ready to Start is an employment initiative run by Leonard Cheshire Disability in partnership with Barclays which backs disabled people to begin their own business.
Ready to Start supports more than 1,000 disabled entrepreneurs across the UK to unlock their hidden potential and start a business.
Self-employment is a workable option for disabled people, particularly as they still face unacceptable barriers to entering the job market and are more likely than non-disabled people to live in poverty.
Ready to Start provides disabled entrepreneurs with a business buddy, distance mentor, free computer equipment, software, training courses tailored to their needs, start-up advice, and information about relevant trade bodies and business associations to help them network locally.
Schani Cave is a disabled man who has set up in business as a pilates and dance instructor.
His business dream became a reality thanks to some invaluable backup from his Barclays Buddy, Daniel McLaren.
If you know somebody who is disabled, with designs on running a business and would like to know how to make a start, visit or call 08456 717173.
Jane Fletcher
Leonard Cheshire Disability Director Innovative Projects.

Taste of the West gold awards for two Exmoor B&Bs

TWO Exmoor accommodation providers have won gold in this year’s Taste of the West Awards, the Somerset winners of which were announced today.
Taste of the West champions the South West’s exceptional food identity and the awards aim to acknowledge food and drink of the highest quality produced in the region and those establishments committed to serving the produce to their guests.
Cliff and Trisha Nicholson, of Spears Cross, Dunster, took gold in the bed and breakfast category of the awards for a second successive year
Mr Nicholson said: “This is quite amazing. We have further improved our menu since last year, sourcing even more produce locally to the extent that our bacon is specially cured by our butcher and smoked by our fishmonger to our own specific requirements.
“With rare breed, free-range sausages from less than three miles away and even furniture that is made locally, our customers have a truly unique Westcountry experience.
“Our Gold win last year definitely helped increase business through word of mouth and using the award logo across all our marketing materials, so we look forward to shouting about our second award win in a row.”
The other Exmoor winner was Three Acres Country House, in Brushford, run by Julie and Edward Christian, which also received a gold award in the bed and breakfast category.
Mrs Christian said: “Our breakfast, which has won a Taste of the West Gold Award for 2006 and 2007, is prepared to order using fresh local ingredients.
“The unspoilt charm of Dulverton is nearby and the options are endless for exploring Exmoor.”
Taste of the West chief executive John Sheaves said: “Consumers are increasingly choosing to spend more of their income on quality food and drink, so much so that this year the market for local food in the UK has been valued at £4.8 billion.
“Despite this, many of the region’s hospitality, retail, and accommodation outlets still source food and drink through central purchasing contracts.
“The awards are therefore designed to highlight those outlets in the region that are proactively incorporating South West produce into their offerings, excelling in quality and, importantly, shouting about what they are doing.
“Not only are these outlets benefiting financially by responding to consumer demand, they are also bolstering the local economy and supporting our thriving producers.
“I therefore take my hat off to the winners and would personally like to thank them for embracing the produce on our doorstep for the greater good of the region and its economy.”
Support from key sponsors is vital to the continuation of the Taste of the West Awards, and Musgrave Retail Partners GB was again the lead sponsor this year.
Jonathon Bayne, head of technical services sustainability and regulatory affairs, said: “Musgrave works with entrepreneurial Budgens and Londis food retailers to provide the consumer with a food offer that is different and better.
“The standard and quality of establishments entered in the Taste of the West Awards simply gets better each year, testament to the ability of these winners to respond to changing consumer demand for local, quality produce.
“We are therefore delighted to be so involved in these highly respected awards for the 10th successive year.”
The awards are judged by a panel of industry experts who visit the winners anonymously and look for quality of food, cooking and service, ambience, evidence of local sourcing, and knowledgeable staff.
Taste of the West’s overall winners in the product, hospitality, and retail categories will be announced at a prestigious ceremony being held in Powderham Castle, near Exeter, on Tuesday, December 2.
More than 200 food and drink producers, retailers, restaurateurs, chefs, hoteliers, and invited guests will gather to discover who will win the coveted Champion Product Award for 2008 and the South West regional hospitality and retail awards.
The awards will be presented by celebrity chef brothers Chris and James Tanner.
  • Our photographs show (TOP) Spears Cross, Dunster, and (BELOW) Three Acres Country House, Brushford. Photos submitted.

Appeal for information after ride-on lawnmower stolen

POLICE are appealing for information after a ride-on lawnmower was stolen from an outbuilding on the Quantock Hills.
The John Deere X410 (pictured) was taken from a barn in Spaxton, between 9 pm on Monday, October 27, and 8 am on the following morning.
Suspects forced entry to the building and took the lawnmower, although no other property was reported to have been taken.
Police are appealing for witnesses, who may have seen anything suspicious to contact them.
PSCO Katey Wells said: “Securing rural garden buildings and out houses is a priority. Make sure all doors and windows are secured, with visible locks.
“It is also beneficial to join the rural watch scheme, a security marking initiative.
“For more information you can contact the beat team via
“Alternatively, you can speak to the crime reduction team at your local police station.”
Anybody with information which may help police with their inquiries in the lawnmover theft should contact the Bridgwater police station on 0845 456 7000.
Or, they can use the independent Crimestoppers charity anonymously and confidentially on 0800 555111.
A secure Crimestoppers contact form is also available online at

Meeting and greeting Crowcombe and Stogumber new beat PCSO

‘MEET and Greet’ sessions are being organised by Crowcombe and Stogumber’s new beat PCSO David Rowe.
PCSO Rowe will be available from next month to accommodate anybody living in his new beat area who wants to discuss any issues of concern.
He said: “My meet and greet sessions will still be held in the Community Policing (CPU) bus and will still be an opportunity for you, the local public, to meet your Neighbourhood Beat Team and discuss any issues that you may have.”
The sessions will be held on the first Monday of each month and will last for 45 minutes.
The new times and venues are as follows:
  • 5.30 pm - outside Crowcombe Post Office
  • 6.30 pm - Notley Arms car park, Monksilver
  • 7.30 pm - Roadwater Post Office car park
  • 8.20 pm - Lysaght Hall car park, Old Cleeve

PCSO Rowe continues also to cover Old Cleeve parish, while his previous beat of Carhampton and Withycombe has reverted to PCSO Sue Hurley and PC Mark Curran, who work from Minehead Police Station.
The Crowcombe and Stogumber police neighbourhood beat team is now managed by PC Fiona Clopet, who works from Williton Police Station.

Baccalaureate winner Grace becomes UK 'A-level student of the year'

ONE of first students to receive the new award for AQA Baccalaureate was today announced as ‘A-Level Student of the Year 2008’.
Grace Chesterton (pictured), of Nether Stowey, who attended Richard Huish College, in Taunton, received the prestigious ‘A-level Student of the Year’ award through the Assessment and Qualifications Alliance (AQA) at a seminar in London.
She beat more than 310,000 other examination entrants for it.
Grace was also joint-top student in the country for her performance in a brand new award for the AQA Baccalaureate (Bacc) and received a solid silver medal for this.
There were more than 800 entries for the AQA Bacc this summer and Grace was joint top with one other student.
AQA director general Dr Mike Cresswell said: “We are delighted that the Student of the Year is one of the first to win our new award for the AQA Bacc.
“We are very proud of our new Baccalaureate and believe that it greatly enhances young people’s opportunities in further education and employment.”
A total of six medals were awarded today across six groups of subjects.
Grace was chosen from these top student contenders as the ‘A-level Student of the Year’ on the basis of her academic performance in A-levels taken this year. She has four A grade A-levels and one AS at grade A.
She received a trophy, a cheque for £500, and a certificate to mark the occasion.
As a self-confessed life-long enthusiastic reader, Grace is now studying English language and literature at Oxford University.
The awards presentation was held in partnership with five major companies with an interest in education and lifelong learning.
The main speakers at the seminar were the chairman of new regulators Ofqual, Kathleen Tattersall, and Dr Mike Cresswell.

LETTERS: Support scheme for disabled entrepreneurs

Dear Editor - Do you know somebody who is disabled would like to run a business and needs support?
This week, November 17 to 23, is National Enterprise Week.
Ready to Start is an employment initiative run by Leonard Cheshire Disability in partnership with Barclays which backs disabled people to begin their own business.
Ready to Start supports more than 1,000 disabled entrepreneurs across the UK to unlock their hidden potential and start a business.
Self-employment is a workable option for disabled people, particularly as they still face unacceptable barriers to entering the job market and are more likely than non-disabled people to live in poverty.
Ready to Start provides disabled entrepreneurs with a business buddy, distance mentor, free computer equipment, software, training courses tailored to their needs, start-up advice, and information about relevant trade bodies and business associations to help them network locally.
Schani Cave is a disabled man who has set up in business as a pilates and dance instructor.
His business dream became a reality thanks to some invaluable backup from his Barclays Buddy, Daniel McLaren.
If you know somebody who is disabled, with designs on running a business and would like to know how to make a start, visit or call 08456 717173.
Jane Fletcher
Leonard Cheshire Disability Director Innovative Projects.